The General (1926)

Unrated  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  24 February 1927 (France)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 48,618 users  
Reviews: 231 user | 105 critic

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

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Top Rated Movies #137 | 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Glen Cavender ...
Jim Farley ...
Frederick Vroom ...
Charles Henry Smith ...
Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
Frank Barnes ...
Joe Keaton ...
Union General
Mike Donlin ...
Union General
Tom Nawn ...
Union General


Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Buster drives "The General" to trainload of laughter. (Trade paper ad). See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 February 1927 (France)  »

Also Known As:

General  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$750,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1982) | (1962) | (2003 alternate) |

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


A number of celebrities have cameos in this film: Glen Cavender had been a hero in the Spanish-American War. Frederick Vroom had appeared earlier in Buster Keaton's The Navigator (1924) as the girl's father whose ship is hijacked. Keaton's former director of photography, Elgin Lessley, has a cameo as the Union general who gives the command to cross the burning bridge. Producer Louis Lewyn has a bit part as a soldier. See more »


When Johnnie is running through the woods to escape the Union soldiers, his hat drops from the tree before his head hits the hat to dislodge it. See more »


[first lines]
Annabelle's brother: Fort Sumter has been fired upon.
Mr. Lee: Then the war is here.
Annabelle's brother: Yes, dad, and I'm going to be one of the first to enlist.
See more »


Referenced in The American Friend (1977) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An instant favorite
27 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I haven't had so much fun watching a movie for a long time. The General is a silent comedy (mostly slapstick) about Johnny Gray, a train engineer with two loves: his engine and Annabelle Lee. Annabelle soon dumps him because of his failure to enlist into the Civil War (they would not take him because he was too valuable as an engineer). Things are then sped up a year, where we see some Union commanders planning to hijack a train to unleash a highly sophisticated master plan. As it so happens, they steal Johnny's engine, a big mistake.

Buster Keaton does a phenomenal performance as Johnny. His face and character is ideal for this type of comedy. He reminds me a lot of Leslie Nielsen from the Naked Gun movies (but, of course, less old). He is often ignorant of what is going on around him, leading to plenty of laughs. This also makes him a very charismatic character.

There are countless train related jokes. The first one comes right at the beginning, when we see Johnny being followed by two kids and a woman, in a line much like a train. The bulk of the movie is made up of Johnny running a train, either chasing or fleeing from the Union soldiers. The movement and maneuvering of the trains is beautiful. The stunt work is an incredible accomplishment. The finale is explosive.

The General was a lot of fun to watch. It gave me more laughs than most modern comedies, and had plenty of substance on top of that. This is enough for me to label it as one of the greatest comedies ever. After my first viewing, it instantly became one of my favorites. It is timeless gem that should be watched at least once by anyone interested in movies.

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